HOSTAGE TO WAR by Tatjana Wassiljewa


A True Story
by & translated by
Age Range: 10 & up
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 As a young Russian girl during WW II, Wassiljewa endured starvation, illness, and back-breaking labor at the hands of the Nazis. Her memories, recounted in journal form, make for an awkwardly engrossing, heart-wrenching tale. Living in Wyritza at the time, a small vacation town only 60 kilometers from Leningrad, Wassiljewa recalls the Nazis' black tanks grinding down the dirt road. No food was available; her family and their neighbors were left by the invaders to starve. As a 13-year-old, she traveled many miles on foot and traded what was left of her family's possessions for corn. They fended off hunger for awhile, but were powerless to prevent the death of Wassiljewa's ill father, or her deportation to Germany as a ``forced laborer.'' The picture of German society during wartime is chilling: German citizens accepted slave labor as their due, and most ignored the hunger that kept Wassiljewa and her fellow prisoners weak and sick. After the antiseptic, televised images of Desert Storm, readers will be shocked by the cruelty and inhumanity Wassiljewa endured. Throughout the entire nightmare, however, her heart remained a young girl's, and she tenderly recounts the friendships and first love that she found in the work camps. Vivid prose makes palpable the euphoria at the war's end, as well as the overwhelming love she felt when she was reunited with her mother and sister. A harrowing, uplifting story. (Memoir. 10+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-590-13446-9
Page count: 188pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997